Maturity snuck up on me all of a sudden, and as soon as it was there everything that I'd had before was gone. It's amazing how children can be so blissfully innocent. And I remember being like that, when I was all excited to grow up and be big, and when I rarely worried about anything at all. And then, before I realized it, I was big. And being big came with big problems. Suddenly my world came crashing down around me and I desperately reached out trying to find the place where everything went wrong. But there was no place… I was a child and then I wasn't, but I could not for the life of me find out when it had happened.
I wonder if it's like a date rape drug. You know? You go to a party a virgin, have like one drink, but it's spiked. Then things get blurry. And the next thing you know you're not anymore, but you can't remember when it happened, or what you did wrong. Or more importantly, what you did to deserve it.
When I was little I never questioned my sanity.
But honestly, what has maturity given me? My English teacher once said that maturity was beautiful, and with this newfound beauty came great understanding. That what we read would make more sense, and we would be able to analyze.
I never analyzed as a kid, that's for sure, and I'm not sure I would have wanted to. I mean, what does analyzing something really give you? First you've got the text and what it says. That part is clear enough; but then you've got all the "underlying" meanings. But the thing this, everyone sees different meanings in the same text, so none of them can be right, can they? If I was ever a writer I don't think I'd make lots of underlying meaning in my text. In fact, I don't think many people intentionally do. But people like to pretend it's there anyway. That's something about people I don't get, why do they have to find something in something that isn't really there?
I guess things are so bad on the surface that you have to pretend there's something more beneath.
Another thing about growing up: the more you do of it, the more you see just how messed up things really are. When I was a kid, I honestly believed that the world was nothing short of sunshine and roses. But that went the way of my virginity.
I don't understand people. I don't understand how people can live with themselves. I can't live with myself, and I'm not all that bad off. I mean, it's not just that there are people out there who smoke, do drugs, self-harm and that sort of thing. I mean, I definitely wouldn't be able to live with myself if I destroyed my entire being in that way. But it's not that which unnerves me. It's the way they start. The feeling that they need some control over something, anything, in their lives and turn to the worst possible thing they could do. It's like, life is so horrible that you have to destroy yourself for a few moments of happiness.
I think the world would be a much better place without people on it. I try to imagine it sometimes, the way it would be if we didn't live here. But even if we all packed up and left now, the world would take years to set itself straight again.
Nature is funny. The way everything goes in this kind of circle, and everything remains in balance. And then the way humans come along, pick up the delicate balance, shake it really hard like an eight year old examining a Christmas present, throw it around, piss on it, stomp on it, tell it to go to fucking hell and clear-cut the entire place.
I really shouldn't be saying this. I mean, not that it's wrong to say it, or at least I don't think it's wrong, but I'm not supposed to. I've spent the last three years being told how to think, and the last year pretending I've been rehabilitated.
Rehabilitated. I hate everything that word stands for. Schools are rehabilitation centres. I've decided that if I ever have children I won't do them the injustice of sending them there.
You're probably wondering why I wasn't habilitated in the first place. Simple, I'm not "normal." I suppose it's up to your interpretation of how people should be as to whether or not I'm insane. The government certainly thought so. My parents thought so. I never did. But I don't suppose many people who are do think of themselves as such. I mean, it's a lot to admit to yourself. But I know I wasn't. Or, at least, I'm sure I wasn't. Other people disagree.
It all started with my bathroom floor. Then it moved to rugs, stained glass windows, wallpaper. I read a short story once, "The Yellow Wallpaper". It scared me, it was about a woman who went insane and thought she saw creeping women in the wallpaper, and I couldn't look at any kind of wallpaper for weeks after that. Fortunately our house doesn't have much. Except in one of the basement bedrooms, but I never went down there anyway – too cold.
I know everyone sees them. Patterns. In things, like wallpaper, or badly tiled bathroom floors. But they fascinated me. I mentioned it at dinner once. You can imagine how well that went over:
"Pass the potatoes honey."
The potatoes were disgustingly overcooked so I had no qualms about passing them to the other end of the table, "Mom, are we ever going to get that bathroom floor retiled?"
It started out innocently enough, I was genuinely curious. The patterns annoyed me, and I wanted them gone. The tiles were octagons, white for the most part, except every sixteenth tile there was a black one. They were far enough apart to be pointlessly stupid, but close enough together to get in the way of things. I mean, you'd wind up with a dog with a weird black spot in the middle of it's back, or a flower with a black centre. In some was they increased the patternability of the floor. They annoyed me.
She scooped a large amount of soggy potato onto her plate before looking up, "Oh, I don't know dear. We might not do it at all, it's expensive you know. Why?"
I shrugged, "I don't like the pattern."
"Which pattern, the old one, or the one we were thinking of ordering."
She made a face at the potatoes and shoved them over to the far side of the plate, obviously having just realized how awful they were. "Why not? It's plain; I don't see what's wrong with it. Eat your vegetables Kellie."
My little sister scowled, obviously upset about being caught about to leave the table, veggies uneaten.
"It makes patterns."
"What on earth do you mean? Kellie, I want those vegetables eaten now."
I don't know why I felt it necessary to tell her. I really shouldn't have, I knew she'd freak. Anything abnormal scares her. She's one of those business moms, and dad's one of those business dads – only the travelling kind. See, she works for this huge corporation, and spends all day bossing flunkies around and working with cubicle monsters. And then she comes home and does the same to us.
I think working in a cubicle would limit thinking. That's probably how they're designed, I mean, nobody thinks in an office. It's like a large, moneymaking school-like space. They're a workspace that suppresses thought. It's an ingenious design really.
"I mean, when you look at it, really look at it, it's not just tiles anymore. The way they're made, you have to see things. And the black tile, every sixteenth one, becomes something. Something black in a huge field of white. And even when you close your eyes, all you can see is the outline of these octagons in your mind, like some huge perverse honeycomb."
Both her and Kellie were staring at me now. Kellie shrugged, "I just always thought they were flowers. With little black centres." Then she tried again to get up and leave the table, succeeding this time because mom was just staring at me in a sort of shocked silence.
"You've been seeing things in the bathroom floor?" She asked quietly, like she was having trouble speaking or something.
It was the way she said it, really, so seriously and worriedly that I had to crack up. It probably didn't help much, because she was looking more worried by the minute, but the very idea that my mother (quite possibly the world's stuffiest business woman) would actually ask me 'if I was seeing things in the bathroom floor' was too hilarious to handle.
"Honey, Adelle, have you… did anyone… ever…"
I knew where this was going, "Give me drugs?" I supplied, rather helpfully I thought.
"Err… yes." She looked incredibly uncomfortable; mother-daughter talks were never her strong point.
"I'm not on drugs mom. It's not anything… but the floor bothers me. I just wanted to know if we were getting new tiling."
She opened her mouth to say something, then closed it again, then opened it again and then kept slowly repeating that motion over again, looking like some sort of bizarre fish. The entire thing amused me. I absently wondered if she actually knew what she was doing, or if her mouth was working separately from her brain.
I read once that there are two kinds of catatonia. The first is the most obvious: the brain slows down so much you stop doing things entirely. But the other is that so much is going through your head at one time that your body has to shut down to make room for all the thinking. And it becomes a relentless stream of consciousness. I think it would be absolutely horrid to be stuck in an endless stream of consciousness, particularly if it was about something boring. Like forks for example, you'd wind up thinking something along the lines of: this is a fork, it's metal, I wonder if it would hurt if I jabbed it through my hand… how do they make forks anyway? Is there like a fork factory, with fork moulds that they pour liquid metal into? I wonder how many jobs the fork factory has a year? I bet the workers have to wear uniforms. That would suck, spending all day in a fork factory assembling forks over and over again wearing your fork uniform and safety goggles. Then having to go home and eat dinner with a fork. Maybe fork workers don't use forks, because if I had to look at forks all day I probably wouldn't want to use one with my dinner. Maybe they have soup a lot, because you eat that with a spoon. Or at least I do, it'd probably be difficult to eat with a fork. And so it goes…
I had started to become worried that all the fork thinking would drive me nuts, or that I would become catatonic and really wind up thinking forever about forks and the fork factory. Fortunately my mother chose that point to get up and leave the table mumbling some excuse about needing to use the bathroom.
I should have known that she wouldn't just drop it. I suppose it didn't seem all that odd to me, and making a fuss over it didn't make sense to me, so that fact that she would never crossed my mind.